With a strong foundation in the basic and visual sciences, the Chicago College of Optometry offers students the skills needed for success. A low student-to-faculty ratio helps ensure that you will receive individualized attention and mentorship from faculty who are experts in their field. Throughout the program, our caring faculty will guide you through the application of scientific principles to diagnose and manage eye disorders. You will also benefit from extensive patient care experiences under the supervision of skilled clinical optometry faculty.

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Dear Future Optometrist,

Thank you for your interest in the Chicago College of Optometry at Midwestern University. As one of the nation’s newest colleges of optometry, we have developed a curriculum to meet the needs of today’s practice environment with facilities that are state-of-the-art. What we are most proud of is our people—the faculty who will teach you the art and science of optometry, your fellow students who will share in the collaborative learning environment, and our patients who look forward to receiving your care at our Eye Institute.

What makes the Chicago College of Optometry unique is our focus on interprofessional education, with small class sizes and cutting-edge technology. Our virtual reality simulation laboratory allows students to gain a comfort level in clinical techniques and disease diagnosis before further honing their skills in the clinic. Our curriculum emphasizes One Health concepts that will provide students with a competitive advantage throughout their careers.

Another hallmark of the College is our commitment to service. We have developed partnerships in the community so that we can reach those who need our care the most. Our faculty are committed to student learning in the classrooms and in the clinic. We provide research experiences as well as business management courses to make sure our students are well prepared for their future careers.

Please contact our Office of Admissions if you have questions or are interested in a campus tour. We look forward to welcoming you to the exciting profession of optometry.


Melissa Suckow, OD, FAAO
Dean, Chicago College of Optometry

Fast Facts



Doctor of Optometry (O.D.)

General Requirements

  • Bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution
  • Completion of course prerequisites with a grade of C or higher
  • Minimum overall cumulative GPA and science GPA of 2.75 on a 4.00 scale
  • OAT scores must be submitted by May 1st.
    • OAT scores older than five years are not acceptable
    • Additional information on the OAT may be found online at www.opted.org
  • Two letters of recommendation
    • One letter must be from a practicing optometrist

Length of Program

4 years, full-time

Class Size

66 (Fall 2017)

Class of 2021 Profiles

  • Female: 67%
  • Male: 33%
  • Average overall GPA: 3.24
  • Top home states: Illinois (29%), Michigan (11%), California (9%), and Wisconsin (8%)

Class Size

60 (Fall 2018)

Class of 2022 Profiles

  • Female: 72%
  • Male: 28%
  • Average overall GPA: 3.22
  • Top home states: Illinois (38%), California (10%), Michigan (6.67%), Florida (6.67%), and Minnesota (5%)

Attrition Rates


Class of 2021

Class of 2022

  Number of students enrolled



  Attrition rate for academic reasons

1.5% (1)

1.7% (1)

  Attrition rate for other reasons



  Scheduled number of students to graduate in 5 or more years

3.0% (2)

5.0% (3)

  On-schedule number of students to graduate in 4 years



  Number of students from another year added to cohort




  • Basic, behavioral, and clinical sciences
  • Pre-clinical simulation labs
  • Licensing board simulation rooms
  • Community clinical rotations
  • National Boards preparation courses
  • Optometry business management courses
  • Local and national external rotation sites
  • Contemporary optometry practice curriculum and clinical settings
  • Interprofessional education and clinical experience

Career and Educational Opportunities

Optometrists practice in a wide variety of settings. Some of the positions included below require advanced education or training beyond the O.D. Degree.

  • Private optometry, partnership or group practice
  • Ophthalmology practice
  • Federal government:
    • Veterans Health Administration optometry service
    • Public Health Service
    • Indian Health Service
  • Armed services (military)
  • Hospitals
  • Academia
  • Research
  • Health maintenance organizations
  • Ophthalmic industry
  • Franchise/retail office practices
  • Graduate education and residencies:
    • Master's or Ph.D. degree in Visual Science, Physiological Optics, Neurophysiology, Public Health, Health Administration, Health Information and Communication, or Health Education
    • Postgraduate clinical residency programs in Family Practice Optometry, Pediatrics Optometry, Geriatric Optometry, Vision Therapy and Rehabilitation, Low-vision Rehabilitation, Cornea and Contact Lenses, Refractive and Ocular Surgery, Primary Eye Care Optometry, and Ocular Disease.1

US Employment Projections through 2028

Employment of optometrists is expected to grow by 17%-18% over the next ten years, much faster than the average for all occupations. Because vision problems tend to occur more frequently later in life, an aging population will require more optometrists. As people age, they become more susceptible to conditions that impair vision, such as cataracts and macular degeneration.2 

The number of people with chronic diseases, such as diabetes, has grown in recent years. Diabetes is linked to increased rates of several eye conditions, including diabetic retinopathy, a condition that affects the blood vessels in the eye and may lead to loss of vision. More optometrists will be needed to monitor, treat, and refer individuals with chronic conditions stemming from diabetes.

In addition, nearly all health plans cover medical eye care and many cover preventive eye exams. Furthermore, the number of individuals, particularly children, who have access to vision or eye care insurance is expected to continue to increase because of federal health insurance reform. More optometrists will be needed to provide services to more patients.

Career Outlook

18% projected increase in optometry jobs by 2026*

$140,913 average net income for optometrists in 2016**

*According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Optometrists
**AOA Survey of Optometric Practice, updated January 2018 (https://info.optometriceducation.org, last accessed 10/2/2018) 

Admission Requirements


Students seeking admission to the Chicago College of Optometry must submit the following documented evidence:

  1. A minimum cumulative GPA and science coursework GPA of 2.75 on a 4.00 scale.
  2. A baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution. A B.A. degree is acceptable, but a B.S. degree is preferred.
  3. Results of one of the following admission tests. Applicants must submit scores from one of the following admission tests: Optometry Admission Test (OAT), Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), Dental Aptitude Test (DAT), Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT), or the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). A competitive test score (at least at or above the mean score for each exam) is recommended of all applicants. In order to be considered for the class to be admitted in the Fall of each academic year, the admission test must be taken and results submitted by April 30th of the year of matriculation. Entrance exam scores must be earned no more than five years prior to the planned enrollment year.
  4. Necessary course prerequisites. All prerequisite courses must be completed with grades of C or better prior to matriculation. Only courses designed for science majors or pre-professional students are acceptable for the science prerequisites.
  5. Two letters of recommendation. One letter must be from a practicing optometrist. The other letter must be from a prehealth advisor, a professor, an employer or extracurricular activity advisor. Letters of recommendation from relatives, personal and/or family friends are not acceptable.
  6. A good understanding of optometric medicine. Candidates are strongly encouraged to shadow and observe a number of practicing optometrists in the clinical setting.
  7. Extracurricular and/or community activities that indicate a well-rounded background and demonstrate a commitment to service.
  8. Interpersonal and communication skills necessary to relate effectively with others.
  9. Passage of the Midwestern University criminal background check.
  10. A commitment to abide by the Midwestern University Drug-Free Workplace and Substance Abuse Policy.

Prerequisite Courses

CourseSem HrsQtr Hrs
Biology with lab812
General/Inorganic Chemistry with lab812
Organic Chemistry with lab46

*The Anatomy and Physiology requirements may also be fulfilled by taking Anatomy and Physiology I (3 Sem/4 Qtr credit hours) and Anatomy and Physiology II (3 Sem/4 Qtr credit hours).

The Doctor of Optometry degree program is rigorous and challenging. The Admissions Committee will therefore assess the quality and rigor of the pre-optometry academic records presented by applicants. When assessing an application, the Admissions Committee will view with concern applicants with:

    1. Cumulative and science grade point averages below 3.00 on a 4.00 scale.
    2. Admission test scores below the mean for each exam.
    3. Prerequisite science coursework completed more than 10 years ago. More recent (within five years) math and science coursework is preferred.


Program Description


The Chicago College of Optometry awards the degree Doctor of Optometry upon successful completion of the four-year professional curriculum in optometry. The first and second years of the curriculum emphasize basic health sciences, optics and visual science and students are introduced to clinical practice in simulation laboratories, through introductory courses and clinical experiences. Visual consequences of disease are introduced in the second year. The third year, divided between a didactic and clinical setting, emphasizes the diagnosis and treatment of ocular dysfunction and disease. The fourth year is intensive clinical training that will include both on campus and off campus externship rotations. Clinical settings for external rotations may include military facilities, veteran administration hospitals, public health service hospitals, and specialty and/or private practices or clinics.

Optometry Profession

A Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) is an independent primary health care professional who is educated and trained to diagnose, treat, and manage disorders and diseases of the visual system, eye, and associated structures. Doctors of Optometry are also able to identify related systemic conditions that affect the visual system. They examine the eye for refractive conditions such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia, eye movement and focusing abilities, diseases of the eye such as glaucoma and cataracts, and systemic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. Doctors of Optometry prescribe eyeglasses and provide services such as contact lenses, low vision rehabilitation, and vision therapy. They may also prescribe medications for the management of eye diseases and perform certain surgical procedures.

Doctors of Optometry are integral members of the primary health care team. As such, these professionals also co-manage diseases that affect eye health and may refer to other health care professionals. The degree is also an entry point into the health care system. Although optometrists provide primary eye care services, they may also dedicate themselves to specialized areas such as low vision rehabilitation, vision therapy & pediatrics, electrodiagnosis, sports vision therapy, ocular prosthetics, and advanced contact lens care.

In terms of job satisfaction, length of training, prestige and job outlook optometry is considered to be a career with a very bright future. With a greater prevalence of diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and glaucoma in the aging population, the demand for optometric services is expected to increase significantly during the next decade, as this population increases.


The mission of the Chicago College of Optometry is to develop competent individuals who embrace lifelong learning through the pursuit of excellence in education, research, scholarship, and patient care for a diverse society. The College’s educational programs emphasize and promote public health, leadership, ethics, professionalism, compassion, commitment, collegiality, and sense of community.

Vision and Goals

The Chicago College of Optometry has the vision to:

  • Deliver an exceptional optometric education experience utilizing our unique multi-health professional setting and cutting edge technology.
  • Provide our students with the knowledge and skills to deliver the highest level of professional, ethical and compassionate eye and vision care.
  • Recruit qualified students; promote lifelong learning, community outreach, and innovative research; and develop leaders in the profession and communities.

The Midwestern University Chicago College of Optometry will pursue the following goals:

  • Deliver a comprehensive Doctor of Optometry degree program that prepares graduates for contemporary entry-level practice and encourages and fosters advanced training, in order to serve the interests and needs of the broader community.
  • Present an innovative optometry program with faculty committed to learning and teaching the current research and evidence based medicine applications, and using technologies to provide an exceptional educational experience for students.
  • Develop and support the faculty and students in their commitment to research and scholarly activities and excellence in patient care.
  • Graduate students who have achieved the learning outcomes as defined by the Faculty.
  • Improve patient care through promotion of interprofessional educational programming and the Midwestern University One Health Quality Initiative.
  • Foster a commitment to professional, collegial, and ethical practices in patient care while promoting public service to diverse communities.
  • Develop a high quality program appropriate for optometry residents at an affiliated or Midwestern University sponsored accredited optometry residency site.
  • Serve the eye and vision healthcare needs of Downers Grove and neighboring communities through the Midwestern University Eye Institute.
  • Provide and encourage lifelong learning and support services to the optometric profession.
  • Develop leaders in the optometric profession and the healthcare community.

Program Improvements

Planned improvements include development of additional external rotation sites that allow students to gain experience with medically disadvantaged patients, embedded assessments for program improvement, and development of specialty practices in the MWU Eye Institute.



The Midwestern University Chicago College of Optometry has been granted the accreditation classification of "Preliminary Approval" as of March 2, 2016 by  the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE), of the American Optometric Association (AOA), 243 N. Lindbergh Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63141-7881; phone 314-991-4100. "Preliminary Approval" is the classification granted to a professional degree program that has clearly demonstrated it is developing in accordance with Council standards.

Midwestern University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, A Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (HLC/NCA), located at 230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500, Chicago, Illinois 60604-1413; phone 312/263-0456.

Campus Safety


Students on the Downers Grove Campus benefit from a safe and secure suburban learning environment. Located 25 miles west of Chicago, our beautiful gated campus features 105-acres of wooded land and provides students with excellent living and learning opportunities. In addition, the University maintains a strong record of campus safety and has earned several partnership and citizen awards from local fire and police departments.

At Midwestern University, the safety and security of all members of our academic community is a top priority. For more information about our campus safety statistics, visit the national Campus Safety and Security database at http://ope.ed.gov/security/index.aspx.

Diane Baldemor is a 2014 graduate of the Physical Therapy Program.

Safi Mohammed, College of Osteopathic Medicine (CCOM), Class of 2014.

Chessa Calabrese is a proud member of the inaugural class of the College of Dental Medicine-Illinois.

Phil Huang, D.O., is a 2012 graduate of the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Tolu Akinwale is a 2013 graduate in the Chicago College of Pharmacy, where he has learned to provide pharmaceutical care in a wide range of community and institutional settings.

Allison Rushing, D.P.T., is a 2012 graduate of the Physical Therapy Program on the Downers Grove Campus.

I cannot wait to be a practitioner who will be able to utilize my understanding of patients’ occupations in therapy in order to help them to live life to the fullest.

Zachary Karlinski is a student in the Chicago College of Pharmacy.